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SIMPLE-VECTOR started out meaning "one dimensional simple array" with
exactly the syntax you suggest, and it was changed to the current
semantics.  I believe this was because Moon argued that that
interpretation of simple-vector is fairly useless, at least without an
element type being specified.  Since under that interpretation, SVREF
is useless, it made sense to flush the bletcherous SGVREF and make
SVREF do that useful thing.  I believe that the SIMPLE-ARRAY type was
introduced at the same time.

Note that the old SIMPLE-VECTOR can easily be defined using
  (deftype rwk-array (&optional type size)
     `(simple-array ,type (,size)))